20 Questions for ‘Playdate’ Author Thelma Adams
Thelma Adams‘s just published novel, Playdate (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press) is more than a comedy of manners about living the good life in Southern California. It’s an affectionate and empathetic portrait of a house husband, whose dirty little secret is how much he loves staying home and caring for his daughter. If you’ve ever wondered how a stay-at-home dad can be so content, Playdate offers a view into his secret world. Adams, the film critic for US Weekly, lives in Hyde Park, NY, with her husband, Ranald Adams, a solution architect for HP, and their two children, Trevor, 15, and Elizabeth, 11. She will be reading at Oblong Books & Music in Rhinebeck, on Saturday, January 29 at 7:30 p.m. Although her book is set in her native California, it’s clear from her answers to our 20 Questions that she’s lost her heart to the Hudson Valley.
1. How did you choose to move from Brooklyn to Hyde Park?
We fell in love with a house and the surrounding land. We have nearly 15 acres on the Fall Kill with a bridge over the water leading to what was once a hunting lodge. I watched my husband walk the land and I knew he was home, and that I was there with him. It’s convenience to the Poughkeepsie Metro North station for my twice-weekly round-trips to see movies in Manhattan for Us Weekly didn’t hurt.
2. Where and when do you write?
I’m a morning writer. I write at my desk on the sunny southern side of our bedroom on my cherry red HP Mini.
3. What’s your favorite way to spend a Sunday morning?
Writing! I sit at my desk looking south over the landscape—wild turkeys do their flamboyant mating dance, a red fox pads into the circle of the driveway, deer flash by. I see my peonies in bloom, or icicles hanging off the edge of the roof sparkling in wintry light. Meanwhile, the rest of the house sleeps; our Maine Coon cat, Sherlock, slips into the warm spot I’ve left on the bed beside my husband. Then my husband wakes up, too, and begins making grits and eggs, his Sunday ritual.
4. What’s your favorite way to spend a Friday night?
Watching BBC mysteries on the big screen TV sitting beside my husband, draped in cats with the kids playing peacefully in their rooms.
5. Where’s you favorite spot for bargain hunting?
I love the Hyde Park Antiques Center. The most beautiful piece in my dining room is a hand-carved chest that I looked at for months there, falling in love every time I saw it, until finally I made them an offer they could refuse but didn’t. Now it’s ours. I still mourn the ebony Chinoiserie dining room set I didn’t buy—but I would have needed a second dining room to house it.
6. Where do you go for a self indulgent splurge? The best massage I’ve ever had in the Hudson Valley was from Michelle Christopherson, It was physical and spiritual, completely therapeutic—and the biggest treat for me.
7. What’s your favorite one-hour drive from your house?
I love driving north to Hudson and dreaming of buying a big spread in Columbia County with livestock. I love the farms, the view of the Catskills to the west, and then arriving to shop antiques and boutiques, browse books at The Spotty Dog Books and Ale on Warren Street (I found an August Sander photography book there for my husband’s Christmas present), meet friends and savor the architecture.
8. What’s your favorite historical site?
I’m torn: Vanderbilt or Olana? Olana or Vanderbilt? OK: Vanderbilt because I walk the grounds all the time. I love the view of the Hudson— and it has a fantastic gift shop I browse as a reward for climbing the big hill from Bard Rock. Although, I do find the Olana interiors inspirational, and the vistas incomparable. Thank you, Mr. Church.
9. What three things do you alway do with house guests?
We’re very bad in this regard: we stay close to home. My husband cooks big meals. We watch DVD’s from our enormous collection. And we sit on our screened porch with cocktails and watch the light change over the Fall Kill, hoping the Great Blue Heron will make an appearance, and the muskrats will be frisky.
10. What’s your favorite bookstore?
I love Oblong Books. It’s my local independent and I’m sticking by it.
11. What’s your favorite hardware store and/or garden center?
I love The Phantom Gardener in Rhinebeck and strolling through the shrubs. I’m a sucker for hydrangeas. They have great practical workshops, too. Prune on!
12. Where do you shop for clothes?
I love Present Perfect, the Rhinebeck consignment shop. I got a terrific Paul Smith tweed men’s blazer there in the fall for myself—then gave it to my son. (OK: it looks better on him.)
13. Who do you trust to recommend wines? The folks at Clinton Vineyards in Clinton Corners. I’m all about the Peach Gala. When we first moved to the Hudson Valley from NY and felt flush, we bought a case.
14. Who are your local heroes?
Lynne Ryan, the wife of CIA president Tim Ryan. To me, she’s like the Sandra Bullock character in The Blind Side, always giving of herself. And, at Christmas, she throws down the best competitive gingerbread-house making party. I also adore the actress Melissa Leo, who lives on the other side of the river, along with the great women of the Rosendale Theater Collective, Nicole Quinn and Sophia Raab-Downs. Couple Meira Blaustein & Laurent Rejto make up the spine of The Woodstock Film Festival.
16. Where’s your favorite place for live performance?
The Fisher Center at Bard. It’s a jewel box of a theater wrapped in a Frank Gehry crushed beer can.
17. Where’s your favorite place for breakfast?
Coffee at Bread Alone in Rhinebeck to eavesdrop on the regulars discussing real estate and local politics.
18. What’s your favorite movie theater?
I love Upstate Films for art house fare, but for a night at the movies with the kids I’m crazy about the Roosevelt Cinemas on Route 9 in Hyde Park. It’s locally owned and operated and a fantastic bargain. It’s where I catch up on movies that I missed for my job as US Weekly film critic. The last movie I saw there was Burlesque, a total guilty pleasure!
19. What’s the best celebrity sighting you’ve had in the Hudson Valley?
I saw the wonderful Up in the Air actress Vera Farmiga buying textile supplies at the Sheep and Wool Festival at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds.
20. What are you most looking forward to doing this spring?
Welcoming the big thaw—and the first crocus!